5 Modern Day Wedding Dresses Inspired by 20th Century Icons

With such opulent weddings taking place these days (Kimye, anyone?), it’s easy to find a recent style on the market for your own special day. Much like Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge’s gown sparked a lace sleeve craze back in 2011, designers will create looks similar to whatever is popular currently. Instead of taking inspiration from current celebrity brides, we thought it would be fun to jump into the past: more specifically, iconic wedding looks of the 20th century. We’ve provided pictures of the original looks as well as similar fashions you can get today! More after the jump:


Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (1953)
Ever the classic fashionista, Jackie O has inspired countless designers. Her wedding gown from her 1953 marriage to future president John F. Kennedy featured a floor length bouffant skirt and short sleeves with extensive detailing on the skirt and bodice. Constructed out of ivory silk taffeta by Ann Lowe, the dress also featured a portrait neckline. It’s a classic look, and very traditional as per the Kennedy way.

Update it for 2014: Keep the beautiful ball gown skirt, but lose the flower detail, as that can come off dated and kitschy. To keep the style, you can choose a gown with cap sleeves to keep with the traditionally feminine '50s vibe. Our suggestion for this look is Avery by Carolina Herrera.


Carolyn Bessette (1996)
Good taste runs in the family! Carolyn Bessette wore a simple yet gorgeous bias-cut gown for her wedding to Jacqueline Kennedy’s son, John F. Kennedy Jr., in 1996. The stark white, figure-hugging, floor length silk dress was designed by Narciso Rodriguez.

Update it for 2014: Keep a similar shape but add asymmetrical draping on the bodice for a twist on a classic style. Gemy Maalouf’s W14 3701 also features a trendy back cutout, and is perfectly matched to Bessette’s laid-back yet glamorous style.


Grace Kelly (1956)
Princess Grace of Monaco’s wedding was the talk of the town long before Princess Di. Her dress featured long, lace sleeves, a full skirt, and a wide sash around the waist. Designed by Helen Rose, a costume designer who also designed one of Elizabeth Taylor’s many wedding gowns, her look was true to her classic Grace Kelly style as well as being fit for a royal wedding.

Update it for 2014: Keep long sleeves and similar neckline, as those have come back into style. However, in order to keep the style fresh, it’s a good idea to look for a gown with a slimmer skirt. Beading is very popular for 2014 as well, so you can exchange the lace look which was so prevalent in the 20th century for intricate beading. This Reem Acra number from the Bridal Spring 2015 collection brings Grace Kelly’s style into present day with ease.



Bianca Jagger (1971)
For Bianca Jagger’s 1971 wedding to Mick Jagger, frontman of the Rolling Stones, she wore a simple white suit designed by Yves St. Laurent, and accessorized it with a wide brimmed hat. The minimalist bride may find Bianca Jagger’s style refreshing, as it’s easy to get lost in ball gown decadence when searching for something that will help you keep your style.

Update it for 2014: A pure white jumpsuit is elegant yet structured. Rivini’s stunning suit with an illusion neckline and casual tied waist is guaranteed to make even the least fussy of brides swoon.


Elizabeth Taylor (1964)
We couldn’t write an ode to iconic dresses of the 20th century without featuring the queen of weddings herself, Elizabeth Taylor. For her fifth wedding (and first to Richard Burton), Liz wore an empire waisted short yellow chiffon dress with flowers in her hair. She looked like the embodiment of the flower child, perfect for her 1964 nuptials.

Update it for 2014: Her look is perfect for an unconventional bride, and the flowers in her hair fit right in for today’s boho style. However, the yellow chiffon feels a bit dated 50 years later, so feel free to play with color. Simplicity is key—to keep her fun and free-spirited wedding style, look for a dress with an empire waist, but a longer skirt for a more modern feel.

If you’re channeling 1960s Liz Taylor, Jamille by Watters is perfect for you. It's different enough to stand out like Liz’s yellow gown; coupled with the details of the skirt, it's perfect for a modern boho wedding.

By Meghan Kennedy


Meghan is a recent graduate of SUNY Geneseo with a degree in Personal and Professional Communication. You can find her at the nearest Chipotle tweeting about Drake, her sorority little and Project Runway.


Love Inc. is a leading EQUALITY-MINDED® wedding publication, devoted to creating original content targeted to both hetero and LGBTQ+ couples, setting us apart from other publications in this swiftly evolving world of weddings.